Saturday, 25 April 2020

Hatherton Branch Canal

Hatherton Branch Canal
April 2020

Now let's be clear, the Hatherton Branch Canal never was part of the BCN although the Churchbridge Locks (and branch) were.


The Hatherton Branch Canal with the Churchbridge Locks

Whilst it is not part of the BCN, its operation was so embedded into the northern section of the BCN I think it's fair to say they share a common DNA. And for that reason I have chosen to include it in this record of old lost BCN canal photos.

It was the one and only significant branch canal built by the Staffs and Worcester Canal Company, built in 1841 to reach the collieries and brickworks in and around Churchbridge. 
The 'Hatherton' moniker is attributable to Lord Hatherton, director of the Staffs and Worcs and  the entire 3.5 mile branch canal ran through his land, which meant no approvals were needed from Parliament.

The canal operated as a branch canal for 22 years with its terminal basin being close to the Hatherton Reservoir, but in 1863 a through route was added via 13 new locks at Churchbridge (now the Cannock Orbital Retail Park) to the extensive coalfields served by the BCN's Cannock Extension Canal.

The Churchbridge Locks were something of an interface between the Staffs and Worcs and the BCN, with the BCN buying the land but the Staffs and Worcs paying for the construction of the locks. This link into the BCN proved very successful for the Staffs and Worcs and even in 1902, 12,000 tons of coal came onto the Churchbridge Branch via the locks.

Trade continued as long as the coal reserves existed, but it officially closed in 1949 with the last commercial boat making a passage in 1951 and (there is always one) a private hire  boat forced an agonising last passage in 1952.

There are long term plans to restore this back door into the BCN using the original Hatherton line as far as its old terminus, before breaking off on a new route to the south.

I have ordered the photos as we go down the canal from the foot of the Churchbridge Locks.


Watling Street Bridge (A5) over canal (now a roundabout)

White Lion Pub and A5 bridge over the canal


Watling Street Bridge (left), Gilpin's Edge Tool Works and Churchbridge Locks

White Lion Pub and Churchbridge Junction below Churchbridge Locks in 1926

Early view of Gilpin's Basin and Edge Tool Works


Gilpin's Edge Tool Works and Basin

Gilpin's Basin Bridge at the foot of the Churchbridge Locks

Rail Bridge with Bridge 13 beyond

Canal Feeder with Navigation Channel beyond plus Bridge 13 at Churchbridge

The footbridge (Bridge 13) and railway bridge at Bridgtown Arthur Watts (CRT Archive)


The same twin arches when the M6 Toll was built (Bridge 13)

Canal extension to Churchbridge Locks

The Razza -  AKA the Walkmill Reservoir above Hawkin's Basin

Hawkin's Basin and Cannock Old Coppice Colliery - the original canal terminus in1920

Lift bridge into Hawkin's Basin by A Muir White 1957

Lift Bridge at entrance to Hawkin's Basin

Lift Bridge entrance to Hawkin's Basin (CRT Archive) with Walkmill Bridge (No 12) beyond

Aqueduct into Hawkin's Basin revealed during M6 Toll construction

Bridgtown Top (Number one) and Rosemary(Number two) Locks from bridge 12

Walkmill or Bridgtown Top Tock  (Number one) 1971 - Barrie Hurley

Hawkins Works with Hawkins and Bridgtown Locks beyond


Walkmill lock Keeper's Cottage (Lock One) late 1950's

Concrete lining between locks one and two at Bridgtown (A Muir White CRT Archive)

Concrete Lining above Rosemary Lock (Number two) at Bridgtown (A Muir White CRT Archive)

Remains of Jovey's Lock (Number four)

Jovey's Lock Chamber (Number four)

Bridgtown / Brick Kiln Lock (Number three) to Jovey's Shallow Lock  (Number four) including Bridge 10

Wedges Mill Bridge (No 9)

Wedges Mill

Wedges Mill by Ian Dawson



Wedge's Mill Lock (Number five)

Wedge's Mill Lock (Number five) looking upstream


Swimming at Wedge's Mill

The last passage 1952  (John Liley)


The Boat Museum Society November 2017

Hatherton Branch 1952 by John Liley



Aerial views of the Hatherton Branch

Cherry Tree Bridge (No 8) with towpath ramp added - Andy Tidy

Meadow Lock (number six) today

Meadow Lock (number six) Carol Cooper

Meadow Lock (number six) Carol Cooper

Meadow Lock (Number six) Carol Cooper


Meadow Lock (Number Six) Carol Cooper

Remains of Bridge Number 7 below Meadow Lock - Andy Tidy


Bridge Number 7 below Meadow Lock - Carol Cooper



Upstream from Catch Bridge Duncan Moore

 Catch Catch Bridge (No 6) after mining subsidence

Catch Bridge (No 6) during demolition - Eric Wood

Catch bridge launch site (No 6) for the Dingy Dawdle - Duncan Moore

Duncan Moore at Catch (or Cat's) Bridge (No 6)


Site of Catch Bridge (No 6) - Duncan Moore

 Site of Catch (or Cat's) Bridge (No 6) 1986 - Trevor Littlewood


East towards Catch (Or Cat's) Bridge (No 6) - Duncan Moore


Looking west from Catch or Cat's Bridge (No 6) - Duncan Moore

Cross Bridge (5) looking east in 1970 - Barrie Harley

Upstream from Cross Bridge (No 5) - 1970 - Barrie Harley


Dropped Cross Bridge (No 5) and Dinghy Dawdle - Duncan Moore

Original Cross Bridge (No 5) looking west - Barrie Harley

Downstream from Cross Bridge (No 5)

Same scene decades later by Duncan Moore

East from Cross Bridge (No 5) 1986 - Trevor Littlewood

East from Cross Bridge (No 5)



Saredon Mill Bridge (No 4) looking east

Saredon Mill Bridge (No4)

Saredon Mill Bridge (No 4) by Duncan Moore

Saredon Mill Bridge (No 4) 1971 Barrie Harley

 Scrawper's End Bridge (No 3) by D Benson

 Scrawper's End Bridge (No3) by D Benson

 Scrawper's End Bridge (No3) by D Benson

Reservoir Feeder Channel in1986 - Trevor Littlewood

Feeder to Gailey Reservoir - Barrie Harley

Between Scrawper's and Saredon Mill Bridges by Duncan Moore

Upstream view of Scrawper's End Bridge (No3) by Duncan Moore

 Scrawper's End Bridge (No3) by Barrie Harley 1971


Lowered Scrawper's End (No 3) today

Reduced headroom at Scrawper's End Bridge (No3) by Duncan Moore

M6 Culvert Barrie Harley

M6 obstruction 1991 - Duncan Moore

M6 crossing by Barrie Harley

Negotiating the M6 by Duncan Moore

Launch at the Straight Mile at site of Dog Bridge - Duncan Moore

DOES ANYONE HAVE A PHOTO OF DOG BRIDGE?




























 Dingy Dawdle  in 1991 from site of Dog Bridge on the Straight Mile


Duncan Moore

Decaying boats above Lock Seven

Decaying day boats above Lock Seven - Duncan Moore

 Lock Seven- Duncan Moore


Lock Seven with Dry Dock by Duncan Moore

Lock Seven at Calf Heath adapted to dry dock

Boatyard Basin between Locks Seven and Eight - Duncan Moore

Calf Heath bottom lock (Lock eight) - Athur Watts CRT Archive

Lock Eight in use - Duncan Moore

Duncan Moore

Lock eight - Arthur Watts - CRT Archive

Lock Eight Barrie Harley 1971 - Cannock Library


Lock Eight by Graham Moore

Portaging dinghy Dawdle at Hatherton Bottom Lock (Lock eight)

Calf Heath Bridge No 1 and bottom lock (Lock Eight) - Arthur Watts CRT Archive


Hatherton Junction with the Staffs and Worcester Canal (Tom Manning)

Hatherton Junction at Calf Heath - Barrie Harley



The above photos have been assembled from various sources, including those freely found on the internet. My thanks go to the many photographers alive and dead who have contributed to this collection and in so doing, are keeping the memory of these lost canals alive. These images are reproduced for ease of research are are not necessarily the property of this blog, and as such should not be used for commercial gain without the explicit permission of the owner (whoever that may be).

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